If you’re not a marshmallow lover, these colorful and flavor-packed pomegranate and cranberry marshmallows will change your mind. Homemade is always best!
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I first made these marshmallows three years ago, after seeing the candy all over Pinterest and in my favorite food magazines, too. They were something of a hot item back then, but contrary to most dessert trends, I didn’t feel the urgency of making them at home. Sure, they were cute, but since I’m not a fan of store-bought marshmallows to begin with, I thought chances were slim the homemade version would change my mind. This is the last time I had such a thought. The rule is simple:homemade is always best, and that includes marshmallows.
I have since then made different marshmallow flavors, but these colorful Pomegranate and Cranberry Marshmallows are the ones I always go back to. Pomegranate juice and cranberry powder inject a lot of flavor in each bite, and that’s a huge selling point for me. They’re also perfectly chewy: in my mind, marshmallows should, at first bite, stick to your teeth and kind of resist to give in to your bite.
In case you’re wary of using corn syrup, like I usually am: you can substitute golden syrup or maple syrup, but the color of the marshmallows will be affected. Let’s be honest: corn syrup is difficult to avoid in the candy world. Since I never use the ingredient otherwise, I decided there’s little harm in using some to make oh-so-delicious candies once a year.
In the meantime, put the sugar and corn syrup in a saucepan and add just enough pomegranate juice to cover the sugar, about ¾ cup [180 ml] more. Stir thoroughly and brush down any sugar sticking to the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush (to prevent sugar crystals from forming when heating the mixture).
Cook over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then turn up the heat to bring it to a boil. Using a candy thermometer to monitor the heat, boil the syrup until it reaches 265°F [130°C]. Once it does, take the pan off the heat and let it cool for 1 minute.
Start whisking the gelatin mixture on medium speed. Slowly pour the hot syrup down the side of the bowl, whisking continuously throughout the process. Don’t allow the stream of hot syrup to touch the whisk directly or it’ll create sugar crystals in the marshmallows.
Once you've incorporated all the syrup, you can add food coloring if the color of the marshmallow mixture isn’t as bright as you’d like it to be. Add a few drops at a time, whisking until you reach the shade you're looking for. Continue whisking until the mixture becomes really thick, like a stiff meringue. It’s ready when you see the whisk forming bubblegum-like strands on the surface.
Line the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13 in [23 x 33 cm] baking pan with plastic wrap (use a smaller pan if you want thicker marshmallows), leaving plenty folding over the sides of the pan. Lightly grease with vegetable oil, then scrape the marshmallow mixture into the pan using a greased spatula. The mixture is super sticky, so you’ll have to fight it a little. Once it’s all in the pan, press it down using the spatula, then cover with another sheet of greased plastic wrap, and press down on the plastic wrap to create an even surface. Leave to set in the refrigerator for at least one to two hours, until the top feels firm when pressed.
Once the marshmallow is set, lift it off the tray using the extra plastic wrap. Peel off the plastic wrap and place the very sticky marshmallow on a lightly greased surface. Pour the cranberry powder in a shallow bowl. Cut the marshmallow into cubes using a lightly greased knife, then roll each piece in cranberry powder.
The finished marshmallows will keep in an airtight container in a cool place for up to two weeks.
Cranberry powder is a specialized gourmet product. A sprinkle of it adds a really nice flavor punch, and you can use it in many things such as desserts, salads, lattes, or even sprinkled over salmon tartares and gravlax. You can also dissolve it in hot water to make a delicious hot beverage. It’s not a cheap ingredient, but a little goes a long way, and it has a long shelf life. I use the one made by a Québec City company, Nutra-Fruit (they have an online store). You’ll find a similar product here. If you can’t find cranberry powder, you can also use pomegranate powder, pulverized freeze-dried raspberries, or just plain cornstarch, which is the usual and basic marshmallow coating.
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